“I have no appetite to launch a grounded aircraft,” said Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier as a strong reference to Airbus needing to get it right for the imminent start of the A350’s flight test program.
Speaking to the world’s aviation media at the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse, Brégier gave a clear indication that Boeing’s mounting competition posed little deterrence from the mission for Airbus to wrest back single-aisle and widebody dominance from the US manufacturer.
“We are catching up with the A350,” said Brégier, who is one year into his term as CEO. However, he was less demure when considering the competition at the top end of the airliner market, where he said Airbus will soon be delivering up to 30 A380s a year. “I don’t see this with the 747-8,” he said triumphantly.
The same applied to the proposed development of the 777X, he added.
“Honestly, they are redoing the 737 MAX again,” referring, in his terms, to the Boeing’s ongoing evolution of old designs.
Brégier’s defiant message, which he is taking to the near-60,000 staff employed by the company, is that it is “not what Airbus is doing to catch up with Boeing, it is more about what is Boeing doing to meet the A350 and A380.
“The A350-1000 is not a paper tiger. It is real.” He added the A350-1000’s capacity and performance will be a competitive edge for Airbus as it continues to wage commercial war in the upper flight levels during the coming decades.
Not surprisingly, growth is high on Brégier’s agenda. Already Airbus is 10 per cent up on aircraft deliveries to the end of May compared to the same period last year, having delivered 246 aircraft so far this year. The company has also achieved a 50 per cent market share in its key market of China, which Brégier said was not only the result of having a good product, but the positive consequence of investing heavily in China-based aerospace industries. By 2015 Airbus will buy some US$500 million in components and systems from Chinese suppliers with which it has strategic relationships.
An equal priority for Airbus is to improve its profit. Brégier has commanded his executive team to deliver a 10 per cent profit margin on sales by 2015, much of which will come from creating stronger synergies between workforces in the various European centres where Airbus manufactures its commercial aircraft.
While only 14 per cent of Airbus’s sales come from greater Europe, Brégier said the company is not reliant on Europe for future sales and thus shielded to a large extent from the European economic situation. However, it is the global business that Brégier is focused on for his new shareholders, and volume, margin and competitive product will be the undoubted three tenets of his leadership.
Read the full story in the July issue of Australian Aviation.